The Favourite Reviews
The plot revolves around the fierce competition between cousins Sarah Churchill and Abigail Masham for the favor of an aging and increasingly addled Queen Anne. It all starts subtly and mostly innocently enough, but rapidly becomes more outlandish and deeply bitter until we're not sure everyone is going to come out alive. All boundaries of decency and believability are crossed well before the end, but that's half the fun.
It's notable that while there are certainly protagonists and antagonists, there is no-one who could be remotely describes as a hero or heroine. Aside from Queen Anne, who is extremely mercurial, rather needy, and increasingly detached from reality, practically everyone in this movie is ambitious, scheming, backstabbing, and incredibly petty, if not downright b*tchy. And it's a far more interesting movie for it. There is something fascinating and deeply shocking about watching these educated, wealthy, supposedly refined nobles constantly bickering, cursing like students at a public high school, and "romantically" pursuing each other with all the fervor and subtlety of drunken frat bros and sex starved sorority girls, while somehow maintaining a fa√ßade of genteel manners when anyone is looking. It's rather like a regency period Mean Girls.
And what girls they are. Emma Stone is in a rare form as Abigail. Intelligent, cultured, conniving, and utterly ruthless in her climb to the top, she's equally willing to betray her closest friend or jettison her own dignity, and we can't help but root for her most of the way. This may be her best performance to date. Rachel Weisz is also very good as Lady Sarah. Though not as outrageous or conniving as Abigail, she is extremely strong willed, resolute, and not at all above being a catty B when it suits her.
And Olivia Colman is priceless as Queen Anne. Capricious yet oddly stubborn, she's begging for attention and affection one moment, then erupting into mad tantrums the next. She would be a petty tyrant if she had the ruthlessness to be tyrannical. Instead she's like that rich, crazy old great aunt that everyone in the family has to pretend to like. Or perhaps an unruly toddler who must be very carefully coddled to sleep. And her comedic timing is impeccable. Just when you think she's calmed down and the argument has passed, she says or does the darnedest things. The whole movie's like that really, delivering the biggest shocks and laughs with no warning.
From a historical standpoint, this is mostly utter nonsense. But for a comedy which makes no claim of historical accuracy, this is hardly a problem. What I do consider a problem is the unfortunate inclusion of the "fruit throwing" scene. At the very least it could have involved better looking people, perhaps with more clothes. And admittedly it does get a bit slow in one patch towards the end. But those are very minor faults
This is a very unconventional blend of elements which easily could have pushed the film apart into a disjointed mess full of wild tonal shifts. Or overemphasis on any one part could have dragged it down into overwrought soap opera clich√ (C)s or boring crassness, like the recent Sherlock Holmes spoof. But instead the filmmakers and cast have carefully walked the tightrope, delivering results that are oft fascinating and wildly funny. I don't know why this didn't win best comedy at the Globes, because it surely should have.
The story is mainly about two maids that battle to be the closest one to Her Majesty. They're friendship is turning into a mess and they try to get rid of eachother. Her Majesty does not no much about this rivalry, but she surely suffer from it.
I don't tend to like costume dramas like this one, but it's done in a very intersting manner. I dig the swearing and direct use of language that does not fit in with more typical films of this kind. This is a different take on the Queens role and it's both funny and fresh. Some freaky scenes, and I dig the usage of fisheye lenses and the decorations inside the castle.
It's a fresh film, but not all that. Interesting, rearly flat but also a bit long. The ending is also quite weak.
6.5 out of 10 cups of tea.
The technical form was of course great - all the acting, production, camera, or editing was superb and very inventive at places. But it felt like "I want Oscars", "I want the critics to ejaculate with joy when they see this" ... and there were all the necessary components - empowered women, doing anachronistic feminist things and there was homosexuality... together with the certainly unique storytelling it was like giving critic-cats their catnip. I felt it was completely incincere and done only for effect. It was like the wigs and mascara of the baroque aristocrats.